THE CAT AND THE OLD RAT
 THERE was once a Cat who
was so watchful, that a Mouse
hardly dared show the tip of his
whiskers for fear of being eaten
alive. That Cat seemed to be
everywhere at once with his claws
all ready for a pounce. At last
the Mice kept so closely to their
dens, that the Cat saw he would
have to use his wits well to catch
one. So one day he climbed up
on a shelf and hung from it, head
downward, as if he were dead,
holding himself up by clinging to
some ropes with one paw.
When the Mice peeped out
and saw him in that position, they
thought he had been hung up
there in punishment for some
misdeed. Very timidly at first
they stuck out their heads and
sniffed about carefully. But as
nothing stirred, all trooped joyfully out to celebrate the death
of the Cat.
Just then the Cat let go his
hold, and before the Mice recovered from their surprise, he had
made an end of three or four.
Now the Mice kept more
strictly at home than ever. But
the Cat, who was still hungry for
Mice, knew more tricks than one.
Rolling himself in flour until
he was covered completely, he
lay down in the flour bin, with
one eve open for the Mice.
Sure enough, the Mice soon
began to come out. To the Cat
it was almost as if he already had
a plump young Mouse under his
claws, when an old Rat, who had
had much experience with Cats
and traps, and had even lost a
part of his tail to pay for it, sat
up at a safe distance from a hole
in the wall where he lived.
"Take care!" he cried. "That
may be a heap of meal, but it
looks to me very much like the
Cat. Whatever it is, it is wisest
to keep at a safe distance."
The wise do not let themselves
be tricked a second time.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics